Weekend Reads: WPLongform Picks

Last month Cheri took a look at longform writing on WordPress.com, and how tagging your over–1000-word posts WPLongform can help fellow bloggers, readers, and the editors of Freshly Pressed to discover longer, more in-depth material in the WordPress.com Reader. Since then you’ve shared a huge variety of work under the WPLongform tag, and in today’s post, I’d like to take a quick look at a small sample of the work you’ve published.

Reflections in a fjord

Our first piece is a great example of a narrative-driven memoir. In Reflections in a fjord, author Bryan Hemming makes beautiful use of longer form prose to create an evocative, poetic reflection on memory, life, and the things that change and stay the same. Rooted in a family reunion, as much of place as people, he gently layers evocative imagery line by line, paragraph by paragraph, to bring us into a deeply subjective, transformative moment, and its echo many years later in time.

The cabin’s boards resound with laughter. Bjørg giggling so much the words hardly come out as tears of laughter brim. I try to reconcile this old-age-pensioner with the skirt-clad thighs haunting my mind. It is almost impossible. The treacly tones cracked by nicotine and alcohol; the Norse lilt twittering and creaking with age.

With a narrative arc that gently comes full circle, Hemming’s post is grounded in a Proustian moment that serves as the spoke around which his recollections gather. It’s a moving, poetic, gentle piece of writing, perfect for the more leisurely reading experience that longform enables.

Past Meets Present: Shan Shui Environmental Art

In Past Meets Present: Shan Shui Environmental Art, Issac Yuen takes a different approach to longform, exploring and critiquing the paintings-as-advertising of Yong Liang Yang in a more direct, discursive style of writing. Here the longform approach gives Yuen the space to examine the cultural backdrop of the paintings — which reference and play upon the traditional Shan Shui style of landscape painting — before exploring the ramifications, and to some extent, shortcomings of the project in terms of their environmental impact.

Man-made objects have supplanted the natural world. Skyscrapers take the place of mountains. Construction cranes, a common sight in modern Chinese cities like Shanghai, populate the landscape in excess. The ethereal and purifying mists, a common element of Shan Shui paintings, is in reality a miasma of suffocating smog.

Given the space for his prose to breathe, Yuen is able to introduce us to the cultural backdrop of this imaginative play on traditional art, repurposed to contemporary ends, while also reflecting on the bigger picture. This means that his post serves as both a fascinating introduction to the subject, and painter, for the newcomer, but also gives those already familiar with the paintings an engaging exploration into their impact and effect.

Consuming Geeks: Subculture and the Marketing of Doctor Who

The last of our three brief glimpses into WPLongform is a wonderful example of how the socio-economic, political, or academic think-piece can still prove accessible and engaging to a broader audience. Consuming Geeks: Subculture and the Marketing of Doctor Who explores the commodification and mainstreaming of “geek” subculture through the lens of Doctor Who fandom, and its recent popularity in mainstream circles.

…television is littered with a variety of series that openly invoke science fiction and celebrate geeks; anime and manga aesthetics pervade popular culture; and role playing games have become a massive industry whose impression can be seen all over popular culture. Once embracing something esoteric and disinteresting to the masses, geeks now have effected a complete reversal that witnesses them as the leading edge of style: rather than being disparaged as outcasts, geeks have become an energizing fringe fueling mass culture.

WPLongform: your take

Of course, with the sheer range and scope of the work you’ve shared since WPLongform launched, there was no way we could hope to share anything like a representative sample of what’s out there, but hopefully this gives you a brief look at three very different approaches to longform writing that manage to engage readers not in spite of their length, but arguably, because of it.

But our selection is always going to be limited, and subjective. Hopefully you’ve had a chance to check out WPLongform in your own Reader, and if so, we’d love to hear about your personal favorites and discoveries in the comments.

If you’ve decided to try longer form writing on your blog yourself — or write longer posts as a matter of course — consider adding the WPLongform tag to bring in new readers. We look forward to reading them.

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  1. Brian James Freeman

    I love this new tag! It’s perfect for my post, The Stephen King Covers That Might Have Been, so I went back and added it even though the post is old.


  2. arnash

    I’m glad I learned of this long-form writing post finder before I posted my latest long-form exposition. It will be interesting to see if it results in more eyes on my blog. It’s great that we have access to site statistics so we can monitor.


  3. Adam Maarschalk

    This is good to see. Most of my posts are more than 1000 words, so I’ll be busy for a little while adding this tag to a lot of existing posts. I’m looking forward to seeing some good longform writing examples from others as well.


  4. moiracampbell

    Excellently written review, which stimulates me to consider lengthier posts. My current blog is chiefly poetry, so I believe I’d have to start a new page for the more discursive material. Lots to research and ponder, my friends!


  5. aslak122

    To all successive readers: Note, appreciate, and work to assimilate in your own writing the vocabulary and figures of speech in Vick’s pick summaries!


  6. Preston Rentz

    I have an affinity for longer blogs, I’m allergic to anything shorter than 500 words. Thank you.


  7. Michalis Sarigiannidis

    How about making word-count a sortable column in the “Posts” view?


  8. Chuck Gebhardt

    I have been writing my blog for over a year and have struggled to keep my articles as short as possible. I have been trying to follow the oft-stated advice that blogs with articles over 6 or 7 hundred words will not be very popular. I write about complex topics: healing, spirituality and the untapped powers of the human mind. While it has been a good writing discipline for me to cover such large topics as briefly and succinctly as possible, it has also felt very confining.

    I welcome the idea of the longform tag and will use it, since almost every article I write exceeds 1000 words. Nice, helpful topic, and very timely for me!


  9. Kirsten Krauth

    Thanks for highlighting this tag. I wasn’t aware of it, and as as all my posts tend to be 1,000 words, it will be really useful! If you could highlight more sites in the future, I’d be really interested, thanks.


  10. Compass&Camera

    Great information! I will add the tag to my most recent post on Sri Lanka. Thank you!


  11. Soul Survivor

    Glad to know about this. My posts are almost always long! Guess I have a long-standing case of logorrhea….here’s a paean to the life of a beautiful friend of mine, now gone, prematurely, from this planet.


  12. richradbarrett

    Great reads! Your post is just an example of how WordPress can be varied when it comes to the topics it covers. Whether it is politics, literature, arts, social networks, education, industries, and many more; you can always use WordPress as a good resource of information. Added to that is the beneficial offerings of its WPLongform.


  13. Smash

    Love it!!! Just used it on my most recent post. Thanks WP 🙂


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